What is the child welfare parent advocacy movement? In countries worldwide, child protective agencies have the power to separate families based on abuse and neglect allegations with little due process protections, despite a lack of evidence that child protective investigations make children safer and in the face of research showing that many children do far… Read more »


About the Toolkit Collaboration The parent advocacy movement seeks to build the power of parents who have been impacted by the child welfare system to advocate for change, support other families going through through the system, raise up solutions that exist outside the system and improve children’s lives. Members of IPAN, as well as parent… Read more »

The Child Welfare Parent Advocacy Movement

Throughout this toolkit, you’ll find interviews with parent advocates and allies using a variety of approaches to parent advocacy, including community organizing, legislative advocacy and individual parent advocacy. At times these approaches reflect different long-term goals, from advocacy that aims to create a less punitive, more just and supportive system that centers families’ own solutions,… Read more »

Community Organizing

In communities around the world, parent leaders fight the injustices of child welfare systems and the disproportionate impact that these systems have on families from racial and ethnic groups with long histories of oppression and low-income families of all backgrounds. As child welfare is increasingly understood as a justice issue on par with mass incarceration,… Read more »

Legislative Advocacy

Legislative advocacy and public policy work led by parent advocates often grows from their individual work with parents. That’s because parent advocates on the ground often know more about what is and isn’t working for parents than almost anyone else. They also know what parents in their communities would need to help their families thrive… Read more »

Changing Practice

One central question for parent advocacy in child welfare is how much to work on the outside of the system, protesting, calling out injustices and advocating for change, and how much to work to change child welfare practice from within agencies or systems. It’s often a decision that parent advocates make not once but again… Read more »

Individual Parent Advocacy

Parent advocates providing individual peer advocacy offer hope, helping parents feel less alone and showing by example that you can get through your child welfare case. Peer advocacy involves being with and supporting parents emotionally; providing information and strategic advice to help parents so they can self-advocate; and advocating on their behalf. This section of… Read more »

Support Groups for Impacted Parents

When the child welfare system removes children from their homes, parents experience extraordinary grief. They also experience loss related to their identity as parents. However, they grieve without the rituals or support that typically accompany loss. When children are removed, isolation can deepen shame and shame can deepen isolation. Stigma, too, keeps parents from talking… Read more »

Building a Parent Advocacy Organization

Whether parent advocacy initiatives grow from grassroots activism or are created within child welfare systems, at some point they need to address a range of organizational questions. In many ways, they are the same practical, human resource questions all organizations have to answer. But because parent advocates and activists have typically experienced various forms of… Read more »

Parent Leadership Development

Parent leadership development opportunities must provide pathways for parent advocates to grow as leaders, take on increasing responsibility and expand their power and influence in working toward their vision. Intentional approaches to leadership development are important to growing the role of parent advocates on the individual, organizational and systemic levels, and in the broader parent… Read more »

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